This Friday marks 140 years since the birth of the pioneering Czech architect and designer Josef Gočár. His legacy includes iconic works in a range of styles, most famously The House of the Black Madonna, in a Cubist tradition inspired by Picasso, and the “national” Rondocubist Legiobanka, born of independent Czechoslovakia.
The annual One World festival of human rights documentary films got
underway in Prague on Thursday evening under the motto “Not till a hot
January”, addressing environmental issues. Now in its 22nd year, the
festival will be screening 133 documentaries from 60 countries, and will
bring more than 130 festival guests to the Czech capital.
At the opening event at Prague’s Lucerna cinema, the People in Need foundation presented its annual human rights award Homo Homini to the jailed Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov for his commitment to defending basic human rights and to assure a fair trial to all citizens of Tajikistan. The prize, presented by Ukrainian director and former political prisoner Oleg Sentsov, was accepted by Yorov’s brother.
After coming to a close in Prague, the One World festival will move on to 35 other Czech towns and cities.
A group of activists protested against the practice of Airbnb at the weekend, holding a three-day-long brainstorm on how to tackle the phenomenon of short-term letting platforms which many believe is hollowing out organic neighbourhoods in the centre. They were joined by Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, who revealed details about a new City Hall plan for tougher regulations.
Work looks set to begin next week on a replacement for a Marian column
removed from Prague’s Old Town Square over a century ago, the Czech News
Agency reported. The sculptor who has designed the new column, Petr Váňa,
said archaeological research would start on Monday and installation should
take place between late April and mid September.
The original 17th century Marian column was regarded by some as a symbol of Austrian rule and was torn down by protestors in 1918, shortly after Czechoslovakia was founded. There has been heated debate over whether to replace it.
Exactly 75 years ago, on Valentine’s Day 1945 two confused bomber groups of the USAF accidentally bombed Prague. The raid killed hundreds of Czechs and left over a thousand wounded, while also damaging a number of the capital’s historic buildings. It was subsequently used in Nazi and Communist propaganda and remains a painful memory to this day.
Prague is expected to rename the city square outside Russia’s embassy in honour of slain Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov in time for the fifth anniversary of his killing on February 27. The City Council is also in favour of naming a public space after Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, another prominent Kremlin critic gunned down a decade earlier.
One of the most frequent woes of foreign tourists in the Czech Republic is being ripped off when changing money. The Czech National Bank has just revoked the licences of three currency exchange offices in central Prague for violating their obligations under a 2019 amendment to the Foreign Exchange Act. So how much has the situation actually improved since the new regulations protecting clients went into force? A question for journalist Janek Rubeš who exposes Prague scams in his Honest Guide videos.
The number of reported crimes in Prague has increased in 2019, after a
five-year steady decrease, the Czech News Agency reported on Saturday.
Police in the Czech capital recorded 49,863 crimes, which is 2,262 more
than in 2018. Around a quarter of the cases have been solved.
The most significant increase was recorded in terms of property thefts. Violent crime has also slightly increased, with the number of murders up by 5 at 22.
The overall crime rate in the Czech Republic in 2019 increased by around 3.5 percent compared with the previous year with around 199,221 criminal acts investigated. Crime increased in 12 out of the country’s 14 regions with the two exceptions being the Liberec and Zlín regions.
A majority of Prague City Hall councillors have backed an initiative to
install a replica of the Marian Column on Old Town Square.
The Marian Column was torn down in 1918 shortly after Czechoslovakia became independent by people who saw it as a symbol of Habsburg rule.
Previous municipal governments have twice voted not to erect a replica. But on Thursday, most representatives of the United Forces for Prague coalition (Spojené síly pro Prahu), Civic Democrats and ANO parties, backed the idea.
The proposal was submitted by Jan Wolf (Christian Democrats) together with Jiří Pospíšil and Jan Chabr (both of TOP 09).
Sculptor Petr Váňa, who has been working on a copy of the Prague Marian Column for over 20 years, last summer attempted to place part of a balustrade on the site of the original.
Prague City Hall is pushing ahead in its efforts to fight visual pollution in the Czech capital. After banning giant bubble blowers and ‘street artists’ wearing animal costumes from the city centre, Prague councillors have now focused on excessive commercial advertising and shop window design, which harm the visual image of the historical centre.
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